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What are Puppy Strangles?

Puppy strangles, also known as juvenile cellulitis, is a rare condition that causes swelling and sores on a puppy’s face, particularly around the muzzle, eyes, and ears. This condition, while uncommon, can be serious if not promptly treated.

What is Puppy Strangles?

Puppy strangles is an inflammatory condition that primarily affects young puppies, typically between three weeks and four months of age. It is believed to be an immune system disorder where the puppy’s immune system overreacts to normal bacteria on their skin. This reaction causes inflammation of the regional lymph nodes and the development of painful lesions. While any breed can be affected, it is more commonly seen in Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Dachshunds, and Gordon Setters.

Symptoms of Puppy Strangles

The initial signs of puppy strangles include:

  • Swelling of the lips and eyelids

  • Bumps and swelling on the muzzle

  • Swelling inside the ear flaps

  • Enlarged lymph nodes under the jaw

As the condition progresses, the puppy may develop painful sores that ooze and crust over. These symptoms can be mistaken for insect bites or allergic reactions. In severe cases, the puppy may struggle to eat or swallow due to the discomfort.

Diagnosing Puppy Strangles

Diagnosis of puppy strangles is based on clinical signs such as the presence of characteristic skin lesions and swollen lymph nodes, as well as the puppy’s age and breed. Often, multiple puppies in a litter are affected simultaneously, suggesting a possible genetic predisposition.

Treatment for Puppy Strangles

Early and aggressive treatment is crucial for puppies with strangles. The primary treatment involves the use of corticosteroids to suppress the immune system’s overreaction. Veterinarians usually start with an intravenous dose of dexamethasone, followed by oral prednisone to complete the therapy. It is important to taper off the steroids gradually to avoid a relapse.

Antibiotics may be prescribed if there are open sores to prevent secondary bacterial infections, although they do not directly treat the underlying immune issue.

Recovery and Prognosis

With prompt treatment, most puppies show significant improvement within 10 to 14 days. If the condition is diagnosed late or if treatment is delayed, the recovery period can extend to 21 to 30 days or longer, and the puppy may suffer from permanent facial hair loss.

Is Puppy Strangles Contagious?

Puppy strangles is not contagious and does not spread from puppy to puppy. However, multiple puppies in the same litter can be affected due to a potential genetic component. It is advisable to avoid breeding dogs that have had strangles, as well as avoiding repeated breeding of the same pair that produced affected puppies.

Additional Information About Puppy Strangles

For more detailed information or assistance regarding puppy strangles, visit or consult with a Pet Care Professional.

Understanding and recognizing the signs of puppy strangles early on can ensure timely treatment and a better prognosis for affected puppies.

Puppy Strangles
Puppy Strangles


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